Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tin Shed Garden Cafe

In my exhaustive restaurant search in preparation for our trip to Portland I had come across glowing reviews of the Tin Shed Garden Café. Yet surprisingly, all the vegans we met in Portland were very dismissive about it. Granted, it’s not vegan or even vegetarian, but it is vegan friendly AND dogs are welcome (and even have their own menu), so we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to dine amidst some canine friends.

We went for brunch and sat outside in their adorable covered, heated seating area. We started with a fresh squeezed OJ and a gigantic, fresh mimosa: both delicious. I had the vegan friendly “Tim Curry”: a blend of veggies and tofu over fresh spinach, topped with peanuts and raisins in a coconut curry sauce, and served with potato cakes (shredded hash browns). Smothered with Secret Aardvark, this was a delicious and hearty way to start the day. The vegetarian went for the “Sin”: sweet potato bread French toast served with maple syrup and fresh fruit (even figs!), and a side of potato cakes.

One of the nicest things about the Tin Shed is that even though they are super busy, no one makes you feel rushed or as though your service is being adversely affected by the crowd. The service was terrific and we enjoyed a leisurely meal in the clearly popular spot. The fact that most (all?) of their produce comes from the garden in the backyard doesn’t hurt either; to say that it is fresh would be an understatement. The food is very local, very fresh, and tastes it.

In fact, we enjoyed our experience at the Tin Shed so much that we returned for dinner a few nights later to both enjoy the “Baby Beluga”: the dinner version of the coconut curry breakfast, served with lentils over rice (instead of spinach). We added a generous side of crunchy chips and (always vegan) potato salad and were very pleased with both.

Most important to note, though, is how much we thoroughly enjoyed our vegan Bloody Mary’s, which were garnished with some Picklopolis goodies (pepper, pearl onion, olive) and a giant, fresh celery stalk. We even tried one “Cajun”, made with Hot Monkey Pepper vodka: terrific.

It is also possible that the handsome Jesse James was seated across from us, but we weren't and still aren't sure (he's in the way background of one of our pictures). Does anyone know if he's a Portland frequenter?

All in all, I would highly recommend this casual, friendly, all-inclusive restaurant to anyone dining in the area.

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